From Bella Hadid to Dove Cameron, more and more celebrities are opening up about their mental illnesses with the hope of destigmatizing the conversation around mental health. And though there’s a long way to go before the conversation is completely stigma-free, there’s no doubt that we’ve made significant progress in the past decade, as proven by Amanda Seyfried’s retelling of a publicist who told her to keep her OCD and anxiety a secret to not ruin her career.
In an interview with PorterEdit, the 32-year-old actress revealed that her mental health journey began at 19 years old after she finished filming 2004’s Mean Girls and moved to Los Angeles with dreams of becoming a movie star. Seyfried recalled one moment when she was driving on the freeway and had to pull over because of what she later learned was a panic attack. “I got dizzy and had this crazy headache, so I pulled over onto the freeway ramp and called my mom: ‘I’m going to die!’ I was gasping,” Seyfried said.
Seyfried’s mother flew out immediately and went with her to see dozens of specialists, including a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with OCD, a disorder characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears leading to compulsive behaviors. “[My] whole life changed. It was so empowering,” Seyfried said.
Though not everyone considered Seyfried’s diagnosis a good thing. After the actress told her team that she was diagnosed with anxiety and OCD, her publicist warned her to keep quit about her mental illness, fearing that it would sabotage her career. However, that wasn’t advice that Seyfried was going to follow. From the get-go, the actress knew she wanted to talk about her mental health in hope that it could help out others with similar struggles.
“At first, my publicist said, ‘Don’t talk about your anxiety.’ And I thought, fuck you, actually. I want kids who are having weird thoughts to share them without stigma. And if that affects my career, so be it,” Seyfried said.
One in four people struggle with mental health disorders—that means more than 450 million people across the world have some sort of mental health condition. Yet mental health is rarely talked about. However, with stars like Seyfried, that’s changing. Mental health isn’t taboo or a bad thing that can sabotage someone’s career. It’s a part of them and many, many others. We hope Seyfried’s publicist learned that.